Sunday 26 October 2008 (27 Shawwal 1429)

      Can virtue be guarded?
      Amal Zahid | Al-Watan, [EMAIL PROTECTED]
      Whenever I read about raids, accidents and denials involving the 
Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, certain 
questions come to my mind: Can virtue be guarded? Is virtue only related to 
preventing a relationship between men and women or khulwa (unrelated men and 
women meeting in seclusion)? 

      Are there not thousands of ways in which we can build illegitimate 
relationships away from the eyes of the commission, or society for that matter? 
Are there not homosexual relationships that cannot be caught because khulwa 
only applies to a man and a woman in seclusion? Are not corruption, injustice, 
nepotism, cheating and other ruthless acts a violation of virtue and as such 
should be caught and punished?

      The list of questions can go on and on. Does virtue have specific 
features so that when we see somebody we can immediately know if he or she is a 
virtuous person or not? Does a woman wearing an abaya and covering her face, or 
a man wearing a thobe with a high hemline and a long beard, give enough 
indication that she or he is virtuous?

      More questions come to my troubled mind: Is a person who drives an 
unrelated woman in a car committing khulwa? If, as we saw in Madinah recently, 
even a man and woman who are married can be stopped and questioned, then what 
about all the women who ride in cars with or without their legal guardians?

      An act is not virtuous if it is coerced on someone rather than he or she 
doing it willingly. If values are imposed, it robs people of their God-granted 
freewill to choose between right and wrong. Virtue by force does not 
necessarily reflect a person's conviction in a certain principle; rather it 
would lead to hypocrisy. Such a person might behave appropriately in public in 
order to simply cover up his or her immorality out of society's watchful eyes. 
We certainly see this in the way some of us conduct ourselves as soon as they 
leave the country's borders.

      A child who is coerced into a predefined mode of behavior does not get a 
chance to fortify his or her ethical castle, which then may crumble on them in 
later life when confronted with a situation where they have to make a choice 
between good and evil.

      I once again ask: Can we guard virtue? Or is it better to raise our 
children right and with the right to choose between good and bad through the 
freewill granted them by God? Doing so will offer the child an opportunity to 
learn the real meaning of right and wrong, and opt for virtue by his or her own 

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